BOSTON – No hats, no T-shirts, no celebratory champagne. Just a 49th postseason appearance for the New York Yankees and a chance at an unprecedented 28th World Series title.

The defending World Series champions missed out on their second straight American League East title on Sunday, losing 8-4 to the Boston Red Sox to complete a rare late-season fade and finish with a wild-card berth.

“In New York, you’re expected to make the playoffs, but it’s only step one. We all know what the goal is,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “The goal is not to win the division. The goal is to win the whole thing.”

The Yankees went into the final day of the season needing a victory and a Tampa Bay loss at Kansas City to win the division. Had New York (95-67) and Tampa Bay finished in a tie, the Rays would have taken the title anyway by virtue of a 10-8 record against the Yankees in the season series.

But the Rays (96-66) clinched the AL East and home field against Texas when the Yankees lost, then beat the Royals 3-2 in 12 innings.

It’s the Yankees’ fourth wild-card berth and their 15th playoff appearance in the past 16 years. But they stumbled to the finish line, going 29-30 since Aug. 1.

Jed Lowrie homered twice, J.D. Drew also homered and Boston had two double steals in the sixth inning. John Lackey (14-11) struck out 10 in 7 2-3 innings for the Red Sox, who missed the playoffs for the second time in eight years.

“We’d still be playing right now if a lot of things (hadn’t) happened,” Lackey said. “I pretty much can guarantee that.”

Robinson Cano’s RBI single in the eighth inning made him the first Yankees second baseman with back-to-back 200-hit seasons.

Dustin Moseley (4-4) gave up four runs, five hits and two walks, striking out three in five innings for the Yankees. He gave up Drew’s two-run homer in the first and Lowrie’s in the fifth before Boston broke it open against the bullpen in the sixth.

David Ortiz bunted the ball toward third base against a shifted infield and then was lifted for a pinch-runner; he was 3 for 3. Ortiz, who could become a free agent if the team declines his $12.5 million option, waved his helmet to the cheering fans on the way to the dugout and came back out for a curtain call.

After Bill Hall walked, Ryan Kalish singled in one run and the runners moved up on a double steal. Daniel Nava was intentionally walked to load the bases, then Hall scored on Lars Anderson’s sacrifice fly. Kalish, who advanced to third on the sacrifice, stole home as part of a double steal with Nava.

Jason Varitek, the Red Sox captain who’s also eligible for free agency, got a standing ovation before his eighth-inning at-bat, a 390-foot out to center field. He was sent out to catch the ninth inning but pulled to a big cheer before the first pitch.

“We’re proud of the effort and proud of some of the things we accomplished but disappointed in the ultimate result,” Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein said. “We didn’t reach our ultimate goal of getting to the playoffs and then trying to do some damage in October. That said, there’s still a lot to be proud of.”

NOTES: The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to longtime Red Sox player and coach Johnny Pesky during the game. … Lowrie homered in the regular-season finale for the second straight year. … Kalish’s steal of home plate was Boston’s first since Jacoby Ellsbury did it on April 26, 2009.